Politics: If there's one agency that's been made useless by its leaders, it's Immigration and Customs Enforcement. If, under a new policy, being here illegally is no longer reason enough for deportation, why does it still exist?
The Obama administration has effectively declared open borders to millions of would-be illegal immigrants not through legislation, but with a sneaky policy move.
On Aug. 20, its man at ICE, John Morton, wrote a memo stating that being in the U.S. illegally is no longer sufficient reason to send someone home. An illegal immigrant now has to be a security threat or else commit a crime and a violent one at that. To everyone else, ICE turns the blind eye.
Director Morton says it's a matter of priorities. But make no mistake: This is amnesty by another name.
Adding insult to injury, ICE will empty its costly, just-built detention centers of 17,000 existing deportation cases as long as an illegal can show that he or she has applied to become legal.
This, says the New York Times, will "pare huge case backlogs." And to ICE bureaucrats, it's proof they're doing their jobs.
In fact, it's an astonishing abrogation of duty. The policy turns ICE into a $6 billion border-jitney service for the subset of illegals who were picked up by other law enforcement agencies, convicted of violent crime and have served their time, and whose jailers didn't forget to put them on an "immigration hold" list.
Any others can make themselves at home.
That goes for the Mexican Zeta cartel members who are busy recruiting assassins in barrooms around Phoenix, as Fox News reported Friday.
Nothing violent about recruiting, you know and that goes for illegal immigrants who've illegally voted in U.S. elections.
In the latter case, Fox reported that ICE itself helpfully sent a form letter to an illegal who admitted doing that, coaching him to take his name off the voter rolls first so his application could go through smoothly. ICE didn't mind that the man had admitted to committing a felony. The bureaucrats just wanted to issue him his U.S. citizenship so they could clear the backlog.
It also goes for the Mexican cartel members who may be buying off city governments like that of Cudahy, Calif., which is under FBI investigation. It also goes for illegal immigrants who invade rural properties at night in Arizona, terrifying ranchers.
Not surprisingly, there's no one angrier about this mission-nullification than ICE agents themselves. Last June their union issued a letter expressing a membership consensus of "no confidence" in Morton and Assistant Director Phyllis Coven.
They have "abandoned the agency's core mission of enforcing United States immigration laws and providing for public safety, and have instead directed their attention to campaigning for programs and policies related to amnesty," the agents declared.
By extension, no one's happier than the Mexican cartels that have muscled into the immigrant-smuggling business, making about a third of their income from fees charged for such assistance.
Morgan's no-deport policy is just the enticement they need to bring in new business that will fatten up the fee income they use to make war on the Mexican state.
Last Monday's discovery of a massacre of 72 would-be illegals in Tamaulipas, Mexico, on their way to Los Angeles makes clear what lies ahead. Human smuggling is an evil ICE should not encourage.
The cartels are monopolies that make $500,000 or so per human "load" into the U.S., but they also press many illegals into becoming foot soldiers. Some are forced into sex slavery, and others as the sole survivor of the Tamaulipas massacre claimed are ordered to become cartel assassins in the U.S. or else.
The fact that the U.S. no longer enforces immigration laws for anyone except those with violent criminal or terrorist convictions will draw would-be immigrants into this racket like a magnet.
At a time when U.S. diplomats' families have been ordered to evacuate the consulate in Mexico's second-biggest city, Monterrey as happened Friday any encouragement of illegal immigration works at cross purposes to the real national security mission of defeating cartels.
ICE leaders talk smugly about "priorities," but they've effectively abandoned their agency's core law-enforcement mission and become servants of the immigration lobby. ICE should be allowed to do the job it's tasked with. Failing that, it should be disbanded.